27 April 2017

horse chestnut

The walk continues into Queen's park:




It's definitely more interesting looking at trees now that I've taken FOR421.

26 April 2017

sakura

A walk I've been meaning to take for years coincides with the chase for sakura on campus:







Roberts was quite disappointing, perhaps I've already missed the peak since half the branches were bare. Luckily, while walking down the Philosopher's Walk (was also kinda disappointing, this is what happens when you wait years to do something, bring me back to Kyoto please) I spotted a lone tree in front of the law building. It has more blossoms, is situated next to a nicer looking building, and no one else was around to admire it.

Part 2 of the walk tomorrow.

24 April 2017

press

Some time ago, I was chatting with someone who expressed surprise that I never made grilled cheese before. While that's all I remember of the conversation, today's the day that is no longer true!

white bread / cheddar / pecorino romano / kimchi

Motivation:
  1. I'd be really sad if my bread went bad so I'm trying to eat it for all 3 meals
  2. I was trying to use my 126g knob of butter down to 115g so I can make some scones. This might take a couple more days.

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23 April 2017

white sandwich loaf

Today was a perfect day to try my hands at baking bread. Perfect in the sense that my room temperature was exactly the recommended temperature for the dough, which eliminated a big variable and made my life so much easier. I followed abreaducation, one of the resources recommended over at /r/Breadit (I chuckled at the name). Very unfortunate that abreaducation doesn't seem to have any more lessons beyond the whole wheat sandwich loaf, the lessons are very detailed and easy to follow. Also sad that Canada has no easy access to King Author flour, which is go-to brand I see everywhere.

For my first loaf, I followed the lesson pretty much word for word. My time / temperature log in case anyone wants to compare:

Step
Temp (F)
Time
Fold 1 81 1:15 PM
Fold 2 80 1:20 PM
Fold 3 79 1:25 PM
End of bulk 80 2:17 PM
End of pre-shape 76 2:57 PM
Start of baking 79 4:21 PM
End of baking 205 5:01 PM

My folds in general were fairly ugly, as in quite squarish and not very round. I guess this will only get better with more practice. Pre-shaping was alright, slightly difficult to do on a bamboo chopping board (ahem this is definitely not an excuse to buy a marble slab, oh wait my parents already did! I'd also very much appreciate having a plastic and metal bench scrapper).

Before and after baking:



I was overly scared of over proofing my bread, but I think the final density implies that I should've let it proof for maybe 5 to 10 minutes more? I'll have a better idea tomorrow once I'm slicing a completely cooled loaf, got my jagged edges since I was impatient :(



Butter'd up and spread with some cardamon raspberry (chia) jam:


Next steps are to practice this some more and find a longer fermented bread so I don't use an obscene amount of yeast. My jar says to use within 6 month, and I finally see how that's achievable by baking like this.

22 April 2017

jinggu



Two days earlier, I had no motivation to study for my last final. Instead I caught up on Magician (didn't expect that ending to the ancient creature arc), took more photos of tea utensils, and listened to this song nonstop.


21 April 2017

ponzu


Hambagu steak to celebrate end of exams, recipe via JOC. The hambagu itself is really simple to make, but it took basically all morning to grocery shop and assemble the other components. The cast iron was put to good use searing. The carrot flowers didn't work out so well, next time I'll be super keen and make clovers from green peppers.

20 April 2017

w

The best way I can explain this photo is how I feel looking at it is how I imagine Takemodo feels when he was staring at his empty fridge. But it's been a long time since I've watched that episode so I could be completely wrong.


Undergrad is done huh.

19 April 2017

oreo

I rather take photos of a teacup than study for my ENV final.



18 April 2017

loafers

Its quite sunny today so my living room is deceptively warm, which makes me crave summer clothing. Browsing through my pintrest, these 3 images epitomize summer.

Also looking for a unicorn skirt:

  • In between black and navy, aka looks practically black under all lighting expect its actually navy under the full sun
  • More structure than a skater skirt but less structured than actual pleated skirts
  • Holds its shape and wrinkle resistant like wool but flows beautifully in the wind / in motion like a light cotton / silk. 
Wish I can put this spec out for tender...oh wait that's what bespoke is. 

16 April 2017

champagne

Today's food notes:


I've been making this focaccia for a long time but recently switched to using bread flour and woah it ruined a lot of things. The dough is super wet when using the same ratio of flour to water as all-purpose flour. After two stubborn attempts of not changing anything, I've resigned to reducing the water until I can shape the dough into anything but the current blob shape. So far 200ml is still too much.
Reminder to self to renew library card and borrow The Breadbaker's Apprentice (and others on my long long list of cookbooks to read)

...

Living in Toronto with a dislike for out of season fruits forces myself to eat only apples and oranges (technically not in season, but for some reason I associate oranges and tangerines with winter months) for more than half a year. So to bribe myself to study for finals, I splurged on some nice grapes:



Most bites are average good, but damn some bites are so fragranced *u* reminds me of the first time that I smelled a peach that I bought at the Piedmont Park farmer's market. But more literally it taste similar to a logan.
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15 April 2017

capstone

"It’s not an exaggeration to say that capstone is the defining feature of fourth year."
starts my reflection for the course.

Some numbers in ascending order:
1.28 GB of files
4 design components
5 people's sweat, tears, loud voices (was always yelled at in the computer lab)
many cat photos and profanities
161 pages (only 68 pages of body, but 20 pages of reference...)

I guess I'm done undergrad minus 2 finals.

10 April 2017

bees

I think it is safe to say that spring has arrived in Toronto?

Small celebration with some chia seed "caramelized" blueberry jam (read: it got slightly burnt but that's a feature and not a bug):
I'm a bit of a jam snob and its so nice to make your own in about 2 minutes of active effort.

and a photo of my double monks inb4 I scratch the cap (and featuring tapered wool pants aka it's nice to not wear skin tight bottoms):
I'm sort of happy to bare ankles again, but sort of sad that I won't have the chance to wear my fun socks.
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05 April 2017

wear your paper heart on your sleeve

^ I forget if this was my previous favourite line of lyrics

My favourite description of myself, paraphrased from Jeff: "sometimes witty, always cynical yet warm and fuzzy at the same time"

Relevant song:

01 April 2017

a picture of the feelings

Knock on wood, but I think I am decently productive this weekend! Was not as miserable as I imagined it would be... but some sanity maintenance music just in case:




...

Also not sure what I was thinking the first two times I drank the 2013 bu lang from YS but it has great aftertaste! Definitely ordering a couple cakes of this. I did look through my stash again and the abundance of tea (and lack of income for the foreseeable future) is preventing me from buying more tea.

31 March 2017

meteorology

It took many weeks for Kenny and I to exchange tea, but it finally happened and today's weather is a perfect match for some red tea. Its my first time having red tea from Sun Moon Lake and it has a...licorices taste? The leaves are very pretty and smells super sweet.



In other news, I ordered yet more pu er. I blame being stressed when white2tea sent out its email promoting a weekend free shipping event. Made a little order for the white whale, the 2002 tea that made them famous iirc, and their 2017 house blend ripe pu-er. They're sort of on the opposite spectrum, but the white whale seems like such a deal at ~30 for a 15 year old (likely good) tea. Sigh I haven't touched anything from my giant YS haul yet ;_; School go away.

...

Today my prof showed me NASA's surface meteorology and solar energy database, where have you been all my (school) life?! I have so much appreciation for good datasets now. I also appreciated a textbook for the first time in university, bless the Unit Operations in Food Processing.

...

I miss Kyoto too. Didn't spend nearly enough time sitting on the patio here.

30 March 2017

boulder

Its been a while since I put a teapot on this plate. Today's weather is good for a mid roast oolong.


29 March 2017

sort-of wagashi

^yeah I haven't touched any of the ingredients that I fussed about and bought from Taobao. Still making jellies using agar-agar.

After I ate the last two chocolate panna cotta for breakfast this morning (better than pizza right? :D ), and getting the approval of another chocolate-obsessed, I feel comfortable sharing my formulation.

The cocoa powder I'm using in dutch processed and 17% fat content (1g of fat in 6g, is weight percentage how they calculate fat content?).

For a cleaner chocolate flavour and a firmer jelly (my second batch) use water instead of milk.

  • 250g of total liquids: 30g water / 70g heavy cream / 150g milk (I used 3%)
  • 60g sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 2g agar-agar
I made 450g total liquids for my second batch and the ratio scales up well. Though I've read somewhere that you should be careful scaling a batch beyond double or half of the original formulation. 

Cocoa powder loves to clump together and is a major pain to work with, anticipate a loot of time stirring it in. 
  1. Dissolve the agar-agar into the cold water and start heating it up on the solve under low heat. If there's more liquid, you can turn the heat up to medium but the point is to very slowly bring the mixture up to a boil so you have time to mix in the cocoa power.
  2. Sieve the cocoa powder into the sugar and mix well. Mix the heavy cream and milk as well. 
  3. Have a container and the sieve on stand-by beside the stove. Also have an instant-read thermometer within reach.
  4. Start mixing in the cocoa powder/sugar mixture. Add a moderate amount at a time and mix very very well. I found that using a silicone spatula was the best since it has the right amount of flexibility. Best to press any stubborn clumps against the side of the pot. How well you incorporate the cocoa directly determines how smooth the final jelly is. 
  5. Add in some of the cream/milk. Tbh it was more work mixing in the cream than the cocoa. 
  6. Alternate adding the cocoa power/sugar and cream/milk. 
  7. Adjust the heat so the mixture doesn't actually boil over. You can to bring it just above 90C, so check with the thermometer once you suspect the temperature is close. 
  8. Ideally you'll finish adding in everything before the mixture reaches 90C. Once you're done adding in everything, pour the mixture into the container on stand-by, scrapping the pot well. Then set the sieve on the pot and pour everything back into the pot, discarding any clumps that catch on the sieve. I feel its better to set the sieve on the pot rather than on the container since it minimizes the amount of time the mixture sits in a not-hot container. This step is really a pain to do, but worth it if you want really smooth jelly. 
  9. Once the mixture is strained and reaches 90, pour it into the moulds and let it cool. Agar-agar gels rather quickly. 

26 March 2017

dew

So far I've serendipitously found two photographers that are exactly my aesthetic through tumblr: Takashi Yasui and today Pierre Putman:




24 March 2017

ooze

After 4 years of living in the same area, I'm finally repeatedly going to some restaurants for meals.

 Always ordering these two things from Charidise

Last meal at Raijin before they move farther away. They also have a combini that sells Calpis concentrate *u*

Following the formula of acidic / fatty / carbs...plus vegetables

And the Uncle Tetsu empire expands yet again, this time into cheese tarts. Pre-emptively striking before Pablo opens?
It is damn good though, I like it better than the cheesecakes

23 March 2017

cuddle on the couch

Whereas the experiment has been satisfactorily carried out.
Whereas the results confirmed the hypothesis.
I think I like the current way? At the worst, feeling scared is better than feeling guilty. At the best, eh both are pretty close, really depends on how altruistic I feel.



I forget if this was posted already, oh wells.
Cue all the scenes in Before Sunrise with the loaded glances.

...

Okay I admit (to myself really) grad school is bothering me a lot. Can I instead transform into a tree in the middle of the forest in some remote region? Fuck I'm not doing anything for a good reason.

22 March 2017

berry

Its that time of the year again, counting down to moving out and frantically trying to eat my fridge and freezer empty. Ideally pantry would be included in the previous list, but that's practically impossible.

Starting with my pickles, all conveniently in fried rice:

Spooning hot oil onto a sunny-side up egg is definitively the best way to make fried egg.

16 March 2017

billion

If you ask me for a list of my hobbies, I wouldn't name music. Although it's not a hobby, it is a substantial part of my life...but in the way that's like...(what's a good analogy here)...mixing bowls? It's essential but not something I think deeply about. Perhaps due to never building the background as a kid, or maybe I'm just not that interested in it as an end in itself.

But all this preamble is just to lead to my admission that electronic music is pretty great. It is amazing in the sheer variety of sounds. So thank you Jeff for introducing me and stubbornly sending me song recs in the beginning.

Most of these probably already made an appearance on this blog as a sanity maintenance measure. 

15 March 2017

bar

Its been a miserably long day ugh.

13 March 2017

mustard seeds

A trio of Indian dishes from the past week.




12 March 2017

Rimpo

Holy this gyokuro is still amazing almost half a year after the recommended expiry date. It's categorized under "balanced", but still very umami-like.



I also realized that its the body of the tea that you lose in the first couple of steeps.

10 March 2017

black forest cake

This week's sanity maintenance music:



Actually this whole playlist is sanity saving

07 March 2017

attached

A song for 6 month ago


05 March 2017

FeO

The best part of yesterday:

It's actually very little effort to make chicken soup, I should do it more often.

01 March 2017

青春的驕傲

^heh
Today is another day where I'm super nostalgic for old Chinese songs. Maybe it's because iron ring is this weekend durr.


27 February 2017

hold

I forget that gradients and gifs don't play well together, so here's two static image instead:



image via.


黄昏 and Everglow are today's soundtracks.

26 February 2017

broth

A couple of my skincare items ran out around this week so here's some thoughts on that.

I get the importance of scent, texture, packaging (well packaging I always knew) in beauty products now. When I first got into Asian beauty products through /r/asianbeauty, I was solely focused on a product's effectiveness. I'd scroll past everything until the performance review while browsing through the reddit reviews and the 20+ blogs that subscribed to. But after going through quite a bit of the generally agreed upon HG products and having a fairly intensive daily routine, the small annoyances of bad packaging, way too strong scent and drying time (!!!) really adds up. There's also the always present caveat of YMMV that erodes the utility of reading about effectiveness.

A list of complaints from the top of my head:

  • Mizon 8% AHA: fantastic bottle design, but terrible sticky feeling when applying subsequent layers even after a long wait time. If only the Dr. Wu AHA is more accessible and less expensive. 
  • Scinic Snail AIO: just opened this after finishing the CosRx snail ampoule, and ugh the scent is just way too strong. The scent is also a vaguely unpleasant generic floral perfume. I have little loyalty when it comes to snail products but I do miss Benton's serum. 
  • OST20 Vitamin C: also just started using again, not looking forward to the stickiness as well. It was fairly effective from what I recall. Too bad Canada lacks easy access to the cheaper Vit C E+F serums. 
  • Sulwhasoo First Care Serum: I used this for the first time this morning and had to make a post about it. Love the herbal scent, love how quick it sinks into your skin, love the luxurious packaging. I'm so down to spurge on this if it works. 

23 February 2017

roll

Got back from New York with lots of yummy food in my stomach and a cold. I was overly optimistic about the weather forecast and forgot that New York is windy too sigh.

I finally opened up the sencha from Ippodo in Kyoto to celebrate the quasi-arrival of spring:



Not sure whether time has made the tea stale or I just can't taste anything because of my cold (hopefully the latter). At the very least I appreciate how smooth and gentle this tea is.

22 February 2017

forwards

Some photos not posted to Facebook.

Williamsburg: this park is amazing to watch the sun set over Manhattan from:



Astoria: funny how my AirBnB this time is literally the building next door down from where I stayed last time.


The southbound platform is in the sun during the morning, a much needed heat source because I didn't bring enough warm clothing.

Manhattan: I should really go to new areas instead of repeatedly wandering around the same midtown / chinatown blocks.